- Neil Danns followed up a man-of-the-match showing in the midweek EFL Trophy match against Stoke City U23s with another strong performance away at Gillingham on Saturday. His power, coupled with Rohan Ince’s height and physicality, really had their opposite numbers on the run in the first half and it was noticeable how the home side, already in the ascendancy in the second period, found more time and space on the ball in midfield once he had been taken off (presumably because he started consecutive games after a long time in the doldrums). The manner in which he just about stayed onside, checking his run from Eoghan O’Connell’s delightful through ball from the back, was pleasing to see, as was his decision to shoot across goal for the opener. He has been previously maligned by former management and many fans and it will take more than one or two good games to rectify perceptions. However, his interview after the game was very open and honest and it certainly shed some light on events at the club. That dynamism will be needed for the FA Cup replay tomorrow against a Woking side with nothing to lose.
- Michael Smith once again fluffed his lines but there are a lack of reinforcements currently available; Jermaine Beckford did not make the squad, caretaker manager Ryan Lowe is unlikely to select himself and Chris Maguire is probably not seen as someone who leads the line, rightly or wrongly. Presentable chances came both his and Nicky Ajose’s way but they didn’t make the most of them. The latter has proven throughout his career that, given sustained runs in a side, he can score a good amount of goals. Smith has yet to prove that and with a more dynamic-looking midfield behind him, all of a sudden, his role looks a little one-paced and perhaps not the right fit at the moment.
- The marking for Josh Parker’s goal was slack, regardless of whether it was Greg Leigh or Smith’s duty. The number of late goals conceded must be a cause for concern for Lowe and it’s difficult to suggest that it’s down to one factor alone. The Gills dominated for large swathes of the second half, thanks in part to the introduction of Conor Wilkinson alongside the hustle of Tom Eaves, who has developed significantly his all-round game since his loan spell with the Shakers several years ago. Wilkinson put the defenders under significant pressure and his positive attitude caused problems whilst also giving his teammates another outlet to aim for.
- Plymouth Argyle’s highly surprising win at Bradford City means Bury are now bottom of the league for the first time in 2017/2018… but I don’t think it’s time to panic. Strides forward have been made under Lowe’s stewardship and whilst that shouldn’t be taken as an endorsement at this moment in time for the permanent gig, it should nevertheless be recognised. Three tough home matches in a week give him a chance to rotate some of his selections, with tomorrow’s replay the only one in which they are expected to win. Any kind of result against both Blackburn Rovers and high-flying Shrewsbury Town, especially if performances levels are as they have been in the last two games, should bolster his case. Perhaps more experience is required in the coaching setup itself but if the players keep responding to his leadership, morale could be negatively affected by an external appointment, especially if that person chooses to terminate his contract.